A few weeks ago, we reviewed LG’s G Pad 8.3 Google Play Edition, which surprised us with its slick design and execution. Soon after, LG sent us a Verizon LTE-connected version, so we looked forward to this model with some enthusiasm. Except for the additional circuitry that’s required to allow this slate to connect to Verizon’s 4G LTE network, this Android tablet’s hardware inside is essentially the same as that of LG’s original Wi-Fi-only G Pad 8.3 (which we didn’t have the opportunity to review), as well as the G Pad 8.3 Google Play Edition.
When we reviewed the Google Play model, we found it to be an attractive, well-built, and comfortable slate—and one of very few compact Android slates to come close to knocking our 2013 Editors’ Choice winner, the still-compelling second-gen Google Nexus 7, from its lofty pedestal. (We consider tablets between 7 and 9 inches to be “compact” models, and slates between 9 and 12 inches to be “full-size.”)
The G Pad 8.3 Google Play Edition didn’t quite snatch the Nexus 7’s spot. But the cellular-ready G Pad 8.3 LTE is a stronger contender, to our eyes, especially compared to the 4G LTE version of the Nexus 7. Starting with the obvious, the G Pad 8.3 has a screen that’s 1.3 inches larger, which, as you’ll see in our Features & Apps section later on, has its good and bad points.
Before comparing the Nexus 7 and this G Pad, though, let’s look at the differences among the three G Pad 8.3 models available, starting with the original $349.99-list G Pad 8.3. (We’re tempted to dub that model, with apologies to Ice-T, the “OG” Pad.) What sets it apart from the Google Play Edition are its enhancements to its installation of Android. Among them are LG’s QSlide and Slide Aside, which allow you to display and work in more than one app at a time. The original G Pad 8.3 also has several other LG “Q”-features that enhance the overall functionality and value of the tablet. The G Pad 8.3 LTE comes with these value-added features, too, and we’ll take a closer look at them in the Features & App section later on.
The Google Play Edition, on the other hand, by dint of being a Google Play slate, runs on a completely unaltered version of Android—in this case Android 4.4, also known as “KitKat.” The big advantage of being a Google Play tablet, aside from running a plain-vanilla build of Android (which some users prefer), is that it will automatically receive updates of the latest Android software well before most other Android tablets will. Also, it’s optimized for the latest apps, and you get more Google cloud storage for your content than do owners of non-Google Play devices.
The primary difference between the Google Nexus 7 and the original, non-Google Play Edition G Pad 8.3, then, are the Android enhancements and the multitasking apps. Both the Google Nexus 7 and the G Pad 8.3 have gorgeous high-resolution (1,920×1,200-pixel) screens, and both models have loud, fine-sounding speakers, making both strong candidates if you use your tablet for watching videos. Another major difference is price: When we wrote this in mid-April 2014, the original G Pad 8.3 (as well as the G Pad 8.3 Google Play Edition) cost about $120 more than the non-LTE Google Nexus 7; however, that was not the case between the LTE versions of the Nexus 7 and the G Pad 8.3. They’re close in price.
There’s more to consider than just the price of these LTE devices, though. As we discuss in the last section of this review, the Verizon data-plan-plus-device pricing—whether month-to-month or a two-year contract—is a better value with the G Pad 8.3 LTE than with the Nexus 7. Furthermore (and this may be the determining factor for many would-be buyers), when we wrote this, the LTE Google Nexus 7 was backordered on Verizon’s Web site until… the end of June. In other words, unless something changes, it could take two or three months to get an LTE Nexus 7 if you want one. The G Pad 8.3 LTE, on the other hand, was readily available when we wrote this.
Even so, price and availability are not the only reasons to strongly consider the G Pad 8.3 LTE. It’s a mighty fine tablet, with a handful of convenience and productivity features that provide terrific value over other slates that are offered on the Verizon network. With all this in mind, the G Pad 8.3 LTE is a well-deserving Editors’ Choice recipient and a worthy alternative to a cellular-equipped Nexus 7.
Read entire review at Computer Shopper.